§ MR. CAINE (Bradford, E.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India if he is aware that Police Inspector Gaitri Prosonno, who was the chief police witness in the Bassantpore riot case, has been promoted from the fourth to the third grade of Inspectors, with retrospective effect; that the seven men charged by him with having attempted to loot the Bassantpore Police Station were proved innocent before the Sessions Court at Sarun and the Calcutta High Court, and finally acquitted; that the Sessions Judge of Sarun declared that Prosonno had wilfully concealed facts which, if divulged, would have supported the case for the defence, and that his evidence was open to the greatest suspicion; and that the High Court in their judgment declared that the whole of the police evidence was open to suspicion, and entirely failed to prove that the prisoners took any active part in the riot; and, if so, why has Gaitri Prosonno been promoted, instead of placed on his trial for perjury?
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
I have no information whether or not the Inspector has been promoted; but I am aware that a special Report was called for after the Session Trial, and that after considering the matters elicited in the further inquiry then made the Local Government came to the conclusion, subject to the clearing up of certain points still under investigation, that his conduct was praiseworthy. The facts are not quite as supposed by my hon. Friend. Of the seven men charged two were convicted, and the Judge held that "on the whole" the police had "given a substantially true version" of the actual riot. He found, however, in regard to three of the accused, that the police evidence, to the effect that they took part in the riot, was not of so satisfactory a character as to justify their conviction. He based this conclusion partly on the disappearance of certain papers which were afterwards accounted for and partly on the fact that on certain points the evidence of the Inspector and a constable had given him the impression that they were trying to conceal facts which, if admitted, might be favourable to the defence. These 561 points were also subsequently explained to the satisfaction of the Local Government. The Inspector's evidence did not affect the two other accused, who were acquitted. I have not seen the High Court's judgment in the case.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
I must wait till I see it before I answer that question. But I shall be able to answer questions on minor points if hon. Members put them.